waltzing along

I have spent two weeks after the departure of Commando and Catholic Girl went on Call Break doing 2 persons’ work.

Then I spent one week thereafter doing 3 persons’ work because Champagne Truffle went on holiday, a holiday he had booked because he thought that Commando would cover his work but then Commando left so tough luck.

So I haven’t done any of my own work for 3 weeks now. It is making my scalp itch and setting my teeth on edge. I am in perpetual high alert to duck in case anything explodes. I have spent many days laughing too much (because laughing is my coping mechanism) and many nights at home playing sad Chopin Nocturnes till midnight to wind down. It is not pretty.

Then on Monday, all the people on leave came back, much to my relief.

But The Buddha decided to have a protracted thermonuclear meltdown for an entire week, culminating in me spending two hours this morning just counselling people.

I thought that I could come into work today and look at my own files and answer my mail and feel better about life in general. But the morning is over, all I have done is to draft one overdue application and I have to scoot off to Court in the afternoon. This is just not happening for me.

I think I need a holiday from these people except that I have a new paralegal coming in on Monday and I have to reorganise the work to fit her into the team. So I am just going to down a shot of vodka (!!) and head out to Court to get on with the program.

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate being middle management?


keep calm and make decisions

We took vacant possession of our new (old) home yesterday evening.

I walked in and out of the empty rooms, horrified at all of the decisions I am expected to make about all that space.

My father though was in top form. He scrutinized everything and fired all kinds of questions at me.

“Are you going to re-do the toilets?”
“Are you going to take apart all of the kitchen cabinets?”
“Do you want to relocate the hob?”
“How do you want the bed frame to look like?”
“You need new doors.”

I looked back dumbly and tried my best to answer his questions, then gave up and told him feebly, “I think I need to see it all in daylight before I can decide.”

All I want to do is sit in a corner with my head between my knees and my eyes closed. Hopefully when I look up again, the house would be magically all done.

Then I wonder: Isn’t it amazing how I can make all these snap decisions at work about other people’s problems but can’t deal with my own life?

I clearly need help.

to the movies

A couple of weeks back, we took the kids to the Science Centre to look at the Human Body exhibition. While queuing up for tickets, I told The Other Half about how watching IMAX shows at the Omnitheatre was a treat for me in my childhood. We loved it so much that my father bought a family package and we could watch unlimited shows through the year. So many times after dinner when we were bored, we’d just hop in my father’s truck and drove to the Science Centre for a show.

We did not get to watch an IMAX show that day though because all the show times were not right for us.

A week later, I was in the Bar Room with someone who started telling me about what a great show Guardians of the Galaxy was. I remembered The Other Half talking about it and when I got home that night, I asked him whether he would like to catch it.

After making some childcare arrangements and checking my work schedule, The Other Half went online and booked tickets for the movie. He then grinned at me and said, “By the way, remember how you were talking about IMAX shows? I booked IMAX for Guardians of the Galaxy!”

It was really sweet for him to have remembered something so random that I told him two weeks ago. We had a great time last night watching it. Guardians of the Galaxy is really great on IMAX and we haven’t had a night out like that without the kids for a really long while.


I’ve been listening to this a lot since I got the Vladimir Ashkenazy Chopin Nocturnes CD.

I first heard this piece at the end of a Naxos Chopin Waltzes CD I bought from a CD shop at the basement of Ngee Ann City Shopping Centre. I was 14 years old. The tragedy and emotional depth caught me. I opened my Henle edition of Chopin Nocturnes to try to play it but realised that my hand-span was not wide enough for the second half of the song. Also that at 14, I did not have enough emotional depth to see it through.

Fast forward to 2009. The piece was listed as an LTCL exam piece. Mr. Ong made a lot of his students play it, including me though I wasn’t scheduled to take the exam. He made me play it because he claimed it sounded like my kind of song. [There were a lot of these over the years and I gradually started thinking of them as my songs too.] I think this was also around the time he told me that to play this music well, you must fall in love and have your heart broken to get the correct amount of longing, contemplation, and hope. I must have heard more than 20 different renditions of it during that period of time, usually from the students before me or during masterclass weekends, from 10-year-old prodigies to 25-year-old piano teachers.

I started reading it again 3 nights ago, after two weeks of listening to Vladimir spread the chords of the middle section to make up for lack of hand span. As a result, in these last 3 days, I’ve been feeling the absence of Mr. Ong very keenly.

On Tuesday afternoon, I was chatting with my duet partner on Facebook while queuing up in court and in the middle of the conversation, he referred to me as “my dear.” I read the message and for some reason, it registered in my head in Mr. Ong’s soft and musical voice saying it with that usual drawl. Immediately, I felt warm tears start to pool behind my eyes, just as I feel them now typing this.



Nice book


Nice hair

And I won a trial!

But then my day rapidly went downhill from 4pm:
I left work late so I had to miss yoga.
I thought I’d go for a haircut but my hairdresser is not free to see me.
My office has degenerated into a disaster area while I was at trial.



Last Friday afternoon, I gave a seminar for 2 hours. Thereafter, I couldn’t talk to anyone for a day to recover from the trauma of public speaking.

This morning, I did a trial for 3 hours (at the end of which I won!!!). After all the cross-examination and oral closing submissions, I am now unable to carry on any extended conversations with anyone.

You know what’s wrong with me? I don’t like the sound of my own voice enough, which is odd considering that I like my singing voice.

On the bright side, I thought my cross-ex was quite good today. I fizzled out during closing, as usual. But the cross-ex was great. I am still high from it.


Conversation between Champagne Truffle and I after the trial:

Me: Do you wany to gallivant or go back to eat firm lunch?
He: I don’t know.
Me: Can you form an opinion?
He: Tough, given that I spent all morning not forming an opinion.
Me: How about what do you want to eat if we go gallivant?
He: Oh dear! Another opinion to form! And a difficult one!
Me: You know what? Screw it. Let’s just go back for firm lunch so we don’t have to think about this.


I’m going off to try to salvage the second half of my day by getting a pedicure.


watching trains go by

I was listening to the radio with The Other Half in the car yesterday evening when that Stephen Bishop’s It Might Be You came on, reminding me of the one and only cruise I’ve ever gone on.

It was one of those cruises to nowhere. We left on a Friday night and returned on Sunday morning. My parents managed to get a cabin for 4 on a discount and we went with one of my mother’s friends with me as the fourth person.

I was 15 years old: Gawky, awkward, insecure and obsessed with the classical guitar. I hid behind my instrument a lot, behind my songs, behind faked chords, complicated solos. I was too old to go on a holiday with my parents, but too young to stay at home alone without getting into trouble. Hence I was roped into going for the cruise while my two older sisters could stay at home, unsupervised. I supposed that was a good thing. I don’t actually get along famously with my sisters.

At that time, my Biology lab partner had just broken up with her boyfriend from an all boys’ school nearby. He was trying to rebound on me and called me every day, which was really quite pesky. But because I haven’t garnered enough confidence or experience dealing with pesky boys at that age, plus I was a little flattered by the only male peer attention I’ve ever gotten in my life at that point, I tolerated it though I much rather be spending an hour each day sitting at the piano than having mundane conversations on the phone. Before I left for the cruise, he had said to me, “Think of me when you look at the stars.”

So there I was: Too young to go to the casino and too old to go to bed early. My parents and my mother’s friend headed to the casino after dinner while I was left to roam the ship by myself. I wandered around the decks, stared up at the stars, remembered the boy and grimaced. Okay. That didn’t quite do it for me. So I left the deck to explore the ship itself.

I came across the piano bar quite by accident. There was a pianist singing and playing. I sat in an unobtrusive corner to the left of the piano to listen. The bar itself was empty with only 2 or 3 tables occupied, not including myself. After a while, the pianist noticed me and we started chatting while he rested. He got me a drink and asked whether I would like to sing since there was no one around. I then spent the next 2 hours or so having a wonderful time singing with the piano. I didn’t play anything though he offered the piano up to me. I didn’t think the patrons of the bar would take kindly to Chopin waltzes and serious Bach Partitas.

One of the songs I sang that night was Stephen Bishop’s It Might Be You. You see, I lived next to the KTM train track and thought with my teenage affectedness that the song was my song because of the lyrics, I’ve been passing time watching trains go by…all of my life….

Saturday night was spent very much the same way, at the piano bar singing to no one in particular. When I left the ship on Sunday morning, the staff at the bar hugged me to say goodbye. My parents looked on, perplexed at the warm farewell I was getting and no doubt wondering what the hell I was up to on the ship on my own.

Commando left our employment on Tuesday. Trainee J left for her month-long holiday before her call this morning. As such, we have been drinking non-stop since last Friday.

I came into work today and sat at my desk, inundated with files.

I miss them horribly already.


It so transpired that Commando will be leaving for a holiday on Friday. This will be the first time in his life he is travelling alone.

When we were drinking together on Tuesday evening, he told us that his mother doesn’t know about him going on a holiday alone yet.

Say what?!

Apparently when he told his mother that he quit his job, his mother gave him such an earful that he could not tell her then that he was going to fly off to some strange country alone. Then he left it and now plans to call her from the airport.


After drinks, we parted at the bottom of our office block with tips on picking up chicks in bars and all of our well wishes.

May you find true love and happiness.


My son went on an excursion yesterday to Sentosa with his classmates and I made him wear a pair of sandals instead of shoes to school.

At 8:45am, while I was standing in the train on my way to work, I received an irate phone call from The Other Half telling me that my son refused to go into school because he didn’t want the sandals and wanted the shoes instead. According to Lion, My friends will laugh at me!

When you come home tonight, can you please talk to your son to sort out his problems?!? exclaimed The Other Half.

I was mildly amused by that exclamation. Then I remembered Commando and his inability to tell his mother that he was leaving for a holiday alone.

It’s really difficult, don’t you think? Your husband expects you to conduct these pep talks with your son. Then your son grows up to be so scared of your pep talks that he can’t tell you where he is going.


I didn’t have that pep talk with Lion in the end. The Other Half managed to shove him through the school gate after about 20 minutes. He went on the excursion with his friends after all and had so much fun that he lost his voice and spent the evening with nary a peep.

When I got home, his father and him were crowded round his father’s Note 2 playing Plants vs Zombies 2 together like they are the best of friends.

Boys. I don’t think I will ever figure them out.